The love story of a Pakistani woman and an Indian man who met through popular online game PUBG has been making headlines in India after the couple landed up in jail.
Seema Ghulam Haider, 27, met Sachin Meena, 22, through the virtual gaming platform a couple of years ago and recently travelled to India so that she could live with him.
She entered India illegally in May along with her four young children and they were staying with Mr Meena in Greater Noida – a city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh – for over a month, police said.
On Tuesday, the couple was arrested. A court has remanded them in jail for 14 days. The woman’s children are with their mother. The couple have told reporters that they want to get married and live together. Police say they are carrying out a detailed investigation into the case.
The India-Pakistan love story has sparked conversations around the role the virtual world plays in fostering real-life relationships across geographical borders.
Sparks fly on PUBG
Ms Haider married Ghulam Haider, a resident of Pakistan’s Sindh province, in February 2014. The couple had four children – three daughters and a son – together.
Five years after their marriage, her husband moved to Saudi Arabia for work. Ms Haider began playing PUBG to keep herself occupied.
“I used to play PUBG for two to three hours a day and I got to know Sachin while playing the game,” she told BBC Hindi. The two exchanged phone numbers and began speaking regularly.
After their relationship had progressed over three years, Ms Haider decided to move to India to marry Mr Meena.
She has accused her husband of beating her and has told police that she had divorced him. Mr Haider has denied the domestic violence allegations and the divorce.
He has accused Ms Haider of selling their house in Pakistan and running away with their children and jewellery.
How the couple met
Police said that Ms Haider and Mr Meena first met in Nepal in March and stayed in a hotel for a couple of days before they returned to their respective countries.
In May, Ms Haider travelled to Nepal again on a tourist visa, this time with her four children. From there she took a bus to Delhi, senior police official in Greater Noida Saad Miya Khan told the BBC.
Police said she told them that she did not sell her husband’s house but a plot of land that belonged to her parents to gather money for the trip and got the idea of entering India via Nepal from a YouTube video.
Mr Meena, who lives in Rabupura town in Greater Noida and works in a grocery shop, rented a room to stay with Ms Haider and her children.
His landlord, Girish Kumar, told the BBC that he never suspected anything illegal as Mr Meena had provided necessary government documents while renting the house and that his parents too had come to visit the couple.
How they got caught
The couple reportedly met a local lawyer for advice about Ms Haider’s residency in India last week but the lawyer informed the police about them, Times of India newspaper reported.
“I was startled when I found that she and her children were carrying Pakistani passports,” the lawyer told the newspaper, and added that Ms Haider was making inquiries about the process of getting married in India.
The lawyer claimed that Ms Haider had said that her husband [Ghulam Haider] would physically assault her and that she had not met him in four years.
He also claimed that Ms Haider got up and left as soon as she was asked about her Indian visa and that one of his associates then followed her.
“When I learnt that they were living in Rabupura, I informed the police,” the lawyer said.
Along with the couple, the police have arrested Mr Meena’s father as well for sheltering Ms Haider without a visa.
The couple have appealed to the Indian government to help them get married.
Ms Haider’s husband, meanwhile, claims that his wife has been “seduced” through PUBG and wants her to be returned to Pakistan with their children.